I’ll be on vacation this week, both from work and from blogging. But before signing off, I want to comment on President Obama’s appearance in Baltimore on Friday before the House Republicans.
It was, as just about everyone agrees, an impressive performance by Obama, a performance that I think confirms my view that Obama remains very much a force to be reckoned with. Conservatives who think his extraordinary communications skills vanished with the end of the presidential campaign and that he may now be a spent force are deluding themselves, in my opinion.
Right now, the public may have tuned Obama out to some degree, as they wait for evidence that the economy is improving in ways that directly benefit them. But they have not tuned him out permanently, and when they tune him back in, he will likely be quite formidable.
As for the practical impact of Obama’s session with the House Republicans, I think it will be minimal. In other words, I doubt that Obama has any intention of cooperating with Republicans or that Republicans have any intention of cooperating with him.
First, there is a large gap between the substantive views of the two camps. Second, I doubt that either side sees much reason to compromise. Obama expects an economic recovery, and when it happens, he wants to be able to paint Republicans as the party of “no.” Republicans, in the absence of a meaningful recovery, and given the unpopularity of much of what Obama is peddling, see no reason to say “yes” to the president. Third, even if Obama wanted to compromise with Republicans, neither the congressional Dems nor the party’s base would be amenable to that approach.
But things might change next year. For one thing, Republicans might have a majority in the House or, at least, a large enough contingent to require some accommodation from the Dems. For another, Obama’s popularity may improve to the point that Republicans will have an incentive to say “yes” to him from time to time. It was something like these conditions that led to occasional bipartisanship during portions of the Clinton presidency.
But for this year, at least, expect business to proceed as usual.
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